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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Ten Years After: How Blogging Has Changed

For an indication of how blogging has changed in the last ten years, I wanted to highlight two posts.  The first one is from Dan Solove, entitled "Do You Need a PhD to Do Competent and Cutting Edge Legal Interdisciplinary Work?"  It garnered 8 trackbacks(!) and 98 comments from mostly law professors who mostly used their real names in a heated and respectful debate on the issue.  It was a real moment of connection for me, as an issue that I had talked about with folks individually was now the subject of real debate between many contributors who had strong opinions.  It demonstrated that blogs could offer opportunities to engage and connect on a level that hadn't really happened before -- not with so many people, on such a particular issue, in real time.

Sadly, I think that model has not carried forward.  There are perhaps a variety of reasons, but Kate Litvak provides a convincing set of explanations in her 2006 piece, "Blog as Bugged Water Cooler."  The forum is too public for sensitive, controversial information, and anonymous exchanges don't have the same meaning.  I also note Dan's comment to the Ph.D post: "this site won't be host to swipes at scholars and/or their work in the comments and without serious arguments attached."  I appreciated Dan's zealous protection against negativity, particularly anonymous, unsupported negativity.  But it did mean that perhaps folks were less likely to divulge critical information when it was critical of someone.

The other post is "Submission Angsting: Spring 2015."  There are (at this moment) 1,447 comments on the post.  The posts are mostly anonymous, but they share a real community of participants who are going through a stressful process and are sharing useful, finely-grained information.  The topic is uber-particular and not very interesting to the average law student or even law profs who have not submitted anything this cycle.  But journal editors and prospective journal authors can use the info to muddle their way through a somewhat dysfunctional process.

I think these two posts reflect a lot about what has changed in the last ten years of law prof blogging.  But I don't really know what it says about the future. 

Posted by Matt Bodie on April 8, 2015 at 12:08 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


Looking at that discussion, one thing is clear: I had a lot more time back then.

Posted by: Bruce Boyden | Apr 9, 2015 2:08:18 PM

Thanks for posting that old link, Matt. (I wish I were as clever as Orin, too.) It was interesting too look over again (and not just because I had a few comments in it.) There was some serious amour propre on display in the discussion, I'll say. I think it's clear how things have worked out as far as scholarship goes, though that hasn't always mirrored other aspects of the legal education industry. (The fate of Heidi Bond, one of the participants in that discussion and one of the early "law student" bloggers was particularly interesting to find out. I didn't know it at all before just looking up what she was doing now - writing "historical romances", it seems.)

Posted by: Matt | Apr 8, 2015 11:12:49 PM

I would respond substantively, but that would be so 2005.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Apr 8, 2015 7:37:34 PM

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